Patr. Pavle about ROCA
- "Information Bulletin" of the Department of External Ecclesiastical
Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (N 3, 2000, pp. 51-52)
THE SERBIAN PATRIARCH HAS EXPRESSED HIS POSITION IN RELATION TO THE RUSSIAN
ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD
By a decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of December
28, 1998, a Podvorye of the Moscow Patriarchate was formed in the city of
Bari, Italy, for the spiritual nourishment of the local Russian-speaking
community and the numerous pilgrims who visit this city to venerate the
honourable relics of the holy hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, as well as
for the support of working contacts with religious, state and social circles
in Italy. The co-worker of the Department of external ecclesiastical
relations, the priest Vladimir Kuchumov, was appointed as superior.
From the beginning of the activity of the Podvorye, it became known
in the lower church of the former Russian home for receiving pilgrims, which
is partly used, in accordance with an agreement, by the Russian Orthodox
Church Abroad (ROCA), there was serving a clergyman of the Serbian Orthodox
His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia wrote to His
Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, asking him to clarify the situation that
had been created, which violated the canonical structure of the Orthodox
Church, insofar as the pastoral service of a clergyman of the Serbian
Patriarchate was taking place in a schismatic ecclesiastical structure
no communion with any Local Orthodox Church.
His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia sent a return letter to His
Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia, in which he expressed
the position of the Sacred Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church in relation
to the schismatics. In particular he declared the following:
"The Sacred Hierarchical Synod of our Holy Church has forbidden their
Graces, the Diocesan Bishops, to give any kind of canonical permission to
priests to depart for the jurisdiction of the above-mentioned 'church'. We
hope that they will stick to this.
"We are sorry that such a thing could have taken place, and we hope
this incident will in no way spoil the age-old good brotherly relations that
have existed throughout the course of our united history.
"In this hope, we beseech Your Holiness and the Most Holy Russian
Orthodox Church, which is so dear to us, [to forgive] our oversight, which
took place in the city of Bari, and not to consider it to be a sin. We
you that such an unpleasant incident will not be repeated.
"Your Holiness knows the brotherly and Christian relations that the
Serbian Orthodox Church and people had towards Metropolitan Anthony
(Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and the bishops, monks and Russian people who came to
us in flight from the violence of the communists in 1918. This brotherly
relationship continued only until, after the fall of the communists, the
representatives of the Russian Church Abroad started to spread their
priesthood onto the territory of Russia, thereby violating the canonical
authority of the Russian patriarchate. The Sacred Synod has more than once
directed its protests to the leadership of the Russian Church Abroad in
America and demanded that it cease from such actions since they are
anticanonical and worthy of every condemnation."